Corporate Sustainability Management and Environmental Ethics

Douglas Schuler, Andreas Rasche, Dror Etzion, Lisa Newton

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This article reviews four key orientations in environmental ethics that range from an instrumental understanding of sustainability to one that acknowledges the intrinsic value of sustainable behavior (i.e., sustainable resource use, conservation and preservation, rights-based perspectives, and deep ecology). It then shows that the current scholarly discourse around corporate sustainability management—as reflected in environment management (EM), corporate social responsibility (CSR), and corporate political activity (CPA)—mostly favors an instrumental perspective on sustainability. Sustainable business practices are viewed as anthropocentric and are conceptualized as a means to achieve competitive advantage. Based on these observations, we speculate about what corporate sustainability management might look like if it applied ethical orientations that emphasize the intrinsic value of nature. This discussion also includes an introduction to two articles in this special section focused on the role of the environmental manager and sustainability standards, both of which offer paths for incorporating intrinsic valuation of the environment into sustainability management.
Original languageEnglish
JournalBusiness Ethics Quarterly
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)213-237
Number of pages25
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2017


  • Corporate sustainability
  • Environmental ethics
  • Corporate social responsibility
  • Environmental management
  • Corporate political activity
  • Sustainability standards

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